Are C4 Energy Drinks Bad For You? (fact check)

Cans of C4 energy drink

C4 energy drinks were released in 2018 by Nutrabolt, the same manufacturer that also launched Cellucor and rebranded XTEND.

C4 Energy features a pre-workout energy drink that aims to provide energy that’ll help you power through workouts and put you at the top of your game.

Let’s jump straight in and find out what the real deal is. By the end of this article you’ll be able to decide if C4 is good or bad for you.

If you just want the short answer to the question, in my opinion, C4 energy drink isn’t bad for you at all so long as you don’t go overboard and drink too much of it.

C4 energy drinks come in four tasty varieties including Original, Smart Energy, Ultimate, and Natural Zero.

Let’s dive into the details…

What Ingredients Are in C4?

C4 “Original” Carbonated

Ingredients

Every 16 fl.oz can of C4 Original Carbonated drink contains:

  • 0 calories
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugar
  • 30mg niacin (as niacinamide)
  • 6mcg vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin)
  • 85mg potassium

The drink is made of 6.73g of Explosive Performance Energy Blend that has:

  • Caffeine anhydrous (200mg)
  • CarnoSyn Beta-alanine
  • Beta power Betaine Anhydrous
  • N-acetyl-l-tyrosine
  • Citrulline malate

The drink has trace amounts of these ingredients:

  • Carbonated water
  • Citric Acid
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Sucralose (artificial sweetener)
  • Acesulfame potassium (artificial sweetener)
ingredient list on the back of C4 original can
C4 Original contains a 6.73g Explosive Performance Energy Blend

Note: The ingredients listed above are for the flavor Cotton Candy. The ingredients differ with each flavor, so if you’re curious about what’s in the flavor you picked, have a look at the back of the can.

C4 “Smart Energy” Carbonated

Ingredients

One serving of 16 fl.oz C4 Smart Energy Carbonated drink has:

  • 200mg caffeine
  • 0 calories
  • 0g total fat
  • 0g total carbohydrate
  • 0g total sugar
  • 0g protein
  • 0mg sodium
  • 30mg niacin
  • 6mcg vitamin B12

Other ingredients in the drink include:

  • Carbonated water
  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Cognizin citicoline
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Sucralose (artificial sweetener)
  • InnovaTea green tea leaf extract
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Natural flavors
  • N-acetyl-l-tyrosine
  • Sodium citrate

The drink doesn’t contain artificial colors, or dyes.

C4 “Ultimate ” Carbonated

Ingredients

One can of 16 fl.oz C4 Ultimate Carbonated drink contains:

  • 0 calories
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugars
  • 1g taurine
  • 500mcg folic acid
  • 110mg potassium
  • 70mcg vitamin B12
  • 1mg vitamin B6
  • 60mg niacin
  • 3.2g CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine
  • 2g Betapower Betaine Anhhydrous
  • 6g Citrulline malate
  • 1g Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate

The drink contains 708g C4 Ultimate Energy & Focus Blend that is made of:

  • 300mg caffeine anhydrous
  • N-acetyl-l-tyrosine
  • Alphasize A-GPC (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline)
  • Zembrin (Sceletium Tortuosum) aerial parts extract
  • Rauwoflia Vomitoria root extract
  • Huperzine A (from toothed Clubmoss/Huperzia Serrata aerial parts extract)

There are also trace amounts of:

  • Water
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Natural flavors
  • Artificial flavors
  • Sucralose (artificial sweetener)
  • Acesulfame potassium (artificial sweetener)
  • FD&C Yellow #6 (permitted food coloring by FDA)

Note: This ingredient list is based on the C4 Tropical Blast flavour.

C4 Energy “Natural Zero” Carbonated

Ingredients

A can of 12 fl.oz drink C4 Energy Natural Zero Carbonated drink has:

  • 0 calories
  • 120mg natural caffeine from CoffeeBerry
  • 0g total carbohydrates
  • 0g total sugars
  • 0g total fat
  • 0g protein
  • 250mg cognizin citicoline
  • 1g taurine
  • 0.5g tyrosine

Also contain trace amounts of:

  • Carbonated water
  • Natural flavors
  • Malic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Stevia leaf extract
  • Coffeeberry energy fruit extract

The drink does not contain artificial dyes, colors, or preservatives.

C4 Energy Drink Flavors

C4 “Original” Carbonated

  • Sour Batch Bros
  • Cotton Candy
  • Midnight Cherry
  • Orange Slice
  • Purple Frost
  • Strawberry Watermelon Ice
  • Frozen Bombsicle
  • Twisted Limeade
  • Tropical Blast
  • Cherry Limeade

C4 “Smart Energy” Carbonated

  • Freedom Ice
  • Electric Sour
  • Cotton Candy
  • Peach Mango Nectar

C4 “Ultimate ” Carbonated

  • Arctic Snow Cone
  • Sour Batch Bros
  • Tropical Blast

C4 Energy “Natural Zero” Carbonated

  • Cherry Lime
  • Strawberry Coconut
  • Blueberry Lemonade

How Many Cans Of C4 Can You Drink In A Day?

My advice is not to exceed one can of C4 energy per day. That’s assuming you’re a healthy individual with no pre-existing medical conditions.

If you notice the label printed on the back of the can of C4 energy drinks, you’ll see the recommendation not to exceed two servings within any 24 hour period.

The reason behind this has got to do with the amount of caffeine and sugar present in energy drinks.

Given that all C4 energy drinks contain zero sugar, we’ll focus on the caffeine content present in the four different C4 energy drink versions.

C4 VariantsCaffeine content
Original200mg
Smart Energy200mg
Ultimate300mg
Natural Zero120mg
C4 Ultimate has a massive 300mg caffeine in each can!

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recommended maximum daily caffeine intake for an average healthy adult is 400mg.

If you take the numbers literally, you might think it’s safe to drink two cans of C4 Original, Smart Energy, and Natural Zero on the same day. That’s assuming you’re not also consuming other caffeinated products such as coffee, chocolate, soda, tea, and medication.

But why take the risk?

The fine print warning on the C4 energy drink cans also strongly suggests that you DO NOT consume caffeine from other sources while taking the products.

With that in mind, just like any other energy drink, C4 energy drinks should be consumed in moderation.

C4 energy drink can flavour purple frost
Don’t drink more than two cans of C4 in a day!

How Long Do C4 Energy Drinks Last In Your System?

The effects of C4 on your body ultimately comes down to your tolerance to caffeine and the other ingredients in the blend.

Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours. Following consumption, the amount of caffeine in your blood stream will slowly decrease and its effects become less noticeable. It’ll generally take 12 hours or more for caffeine to leave your system completely.

However, if you’re more sensitive to the stimulants, you might feel the effects for a much longer period.

What Happens If You Drink Too Much C4?

Given the relatively high amount of caffeine present in C4, there is a risk of caffeine overdose if consumed recklessly. There is also the case of caffeine dependence that can result in caffeine withdrawal.

Some unpleasant side effects associated with consuming too much caffeine include:

  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue

Caffeine has its benefits but like everything else, too much of anything even good things can be harmful.

Are There Any Artificial Sweeteners in C4?

Yes, there are artificial sweeteners in C4. There are artificial sweeteners like sucralose and Ace-K (acesulfame potassium) added in place of sugar to sweeten up the drinks.

C4 energy drinks are sugar-free, so that puts C4 on the healthier side especially if you’re concerned about your sugar intake.

Although artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved, there have been some differences in opinion on whether or not artificial sweeteners are harmful.

In my opinion, as long as you’re drinking C4 in moderation, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. If you’re still in doubt, I suggest you consult your doctor first before consuming products with artificial sweeteners.

Are C4 Energy Drinks Banned In Sports?

If you’re asking about the ready-to-drink, carbonated C4 energy drinks, the answer is NO, C4 is not banned in sports.

However, it turns out that another product of C4 (nothing to do with the ready-to-drink ones) are actually banned. 

In 2012, 10 football players from Menomonie high school were temporarily suspended from playing the games in the next season.

It was revealed that they consumed the dietary supplement Cellucor C4 Extreme drink which contains Synephrine HCL, unaware that it’s a substance banned by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Synephrine is a performance enhancer that is thought to give athletes an edge over their opponent, thus banned in many sports.

The FDA has also banned the use of Methylsynephrine in dietary supplements and Cellucor has since then reformulated their product and removed synephrine from their list of ingredients.

Are C4 Energy Drinks Bad For You?

I personally don’t think that C4 energy drinks are bad for you as long as you consume them moderately.

Energy drinks can actually be good for you if you use them wisely.

If you need an extra boost to push through your workouts or for when you’re cramming for finals, a can of C4 might be of benefit to you.

But they can easily turn the other way if you’re not careful. Also, if you’re pregnant or have any pre-existing medical conditions you might want to lay off the energy drinks especially those with higher caffeine content.

Meanwhile, if you’d like a more detailed review of C4, feel free to check out this other article I’ve written.

Alternatives To C4 Energy Drinks

You’ll find plenty of alternatives to C4 energy drinks in the market today. Here’s a list of ready-to-drink options.

There’s also a caffeinated supplement by the name Mio water drops as an alternative.

You might want to consider powdered energy drinks as they are more convenient to carry around and much more affordable than your regular energy drink options.

Here are a few names for you to take a look at:

REIZE (my go-to drink)

Making a glass of REIZE energy drink for yourself is really easy. Simply mix the 4g of powder into any of your favorite beverages and voila!

A sachet of REIZE next to a ready-made glass of REIZE energy drink.
REIZE is perfect for any occasion.

REIZE is rich with nutrients like taurine, B Vitamins, ginseng, and more, thus a great daily supplement for your health.

Each sachet comes with 50mg of caffeine, a reasonable amount that’ll enhance your physical and mental performance.

REIZE is sugar-free too, so it’s great for weight-watchers.

REIZE is shipped straight to your doorstep at only around $1 per sachet, including shipping costs.

That’s incredible value.

Give REIZE a shot today and I’ll bet you agree with me that it’s even better than C4.

Marty Spargo

I started my own energy drink brand in 2014 and am passionate about educating people about energy drinks so that they can properly understand the ingredients, benefits and risks without being influenced by the marketing messages put out by some brands. You can read my full bio here.

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